"In giving birth to our babies, we find that we give birth to possibilities within ourselves."
My oldest, a senior in high school, recently committed to Penn State, a land-grant university located in Centre County, PA. Centre County went blue in the 2016 Presidential election, which why I'm okay with it. (I've been a little—rather a lot—miffed at PA ... and WI ... and other states ... since Nov. 9). Until, that is, I learned upon our very first visit that Pennsylvania in general and State College (aka "Happy Valley") in particular are gorgeous. The people are NICE. Grounded. The vibe is ... normal, fun, balanced.
The night before that particular application was due, she and I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. honing the essays, correcting the small stuff (which we know is the big stuff when it comes to college apps). The next day—the day the application was due, not that she procrastinated or anything—she informed me that she forgot to request and obtain a copy of her certified high school transcript. This would explain why I left work early and was standing in the high school counselor's office at 3:55p (five minutes to spare before they closed! An eternity in Life-With-Teens World!). And why I then, after picking up and transporting her sisters to their extracurricular destinations, drove her application to the post office, hair aflame, at 4:57p. Penn State requires the apps to be mailed / postmarked by X date. Off it went, sealing her fate.
I'm not looking for a medal. I'm just telling it like it is. It's been giving birth all. over. again. Only without the registry or fanfare. And with FAR more drama.
I now refer to the process of her applying to twelve colleges as Labor and Deliver(y), Act 2. It even takes 40 weeks, a la Labor and Delivery, Act I. Any (primary caregiving) parent who tells you that they didn't help their kid with college apps is ... lying ... or Buddhist. I applaud the latter. Hell yes, I read her essays. "Hell no," she said to most of my suggestions. What I loved about the process was that it required her to develop and own her voice. To narrow her interests and commit to what's important in her worldview. For today.
When she received her acceptance email, she texted me: "I know it's the app you helped me with until 2:00 a.m. Thank you, mommy!"
With that, she handed me the metaphorical medal. Yeah, I'll take it. Yet as we release her into the wide, wide world, I want her to know, always, that 2:00 a..m. is nothing compared to what I would do for her ... which is go to the ends of the earth.
With or without an epidural.